Coal baron goes from billionaire to bankrupt in 5 years
AUSTRALIAN self-made coal baron Nathan Tinkler has gone from being the nation's youngest billionaire to officially bankrupt in just five years.
Mr Tinkler, a larger-than-life character who spent millions on sporting clubs and horse racing, making enemies along the way, apologised yesterday to creditors and his family, while telling a newspaper that "I can hear the champagne corks popping in the background".
The 40-year-old started out in the mining industry as an electrician before building up his wealth with a series of canny coal transactions.
He made it to the top of Australia's young rich list with a personal fortune of A$1.13 billion (S$1.14 billion) in 2011.
His immense wealth saw him buy into two national sporting franchises, the national rugby league's Newcastle Knights and A-League football club Newcastle Jets, as well as a large thoroughbred stud.
But as coal prices collapsed in the following years, Mr Tinkler found himself under growing financial pressure.
He sold the Knights and his thoroughbred breeding and racing empire in 2014 and was stripped of his Jets ownership last year.
He was taken to the Federal Court by GE Commercial over a US$2.25 million (S$3.1 million) debt from a private jet sale, with a judge ruling on Feb 9 that a sequestration order be made against his estate.
The order came into force this week after Mr Tinkler failed to appeal the decision, which was stayed for 21 days.
"I would like to apologise to the creditors and my family," he told the Sydney Morning Herald, quipping that he might have more success as an anti-coal campaigner.
"I might become an activist and have the full support of the government and the media and have no responsibility."
Bankruptcy trustee John Melluish told Agence France-Presse that Mr Tinkler had disclosed only two assets, "negligible" cash in a bank and one property.